Higher Ed: Revenue Recovery Leveraging An Asset-Rich Campus

Higher education faces an unprecedented challenge in the Fall 2020 semester (and future semesters) finding ways to achieve business objectives during the COVID-19 recovery process. This includes identifying financial solutions to make up for lost revenue streams from tuition fees, athletics, and ancillary programs. The requirement is a different way of thinking about the recovery process.

What’s the Challenge for Higher Ed During COVID-19 Recovery?

During the initial shutdown in Spring 2020, the immediate response was to focus on cutting expenses. Institutions recognized that the pandemic would significantly impact their operating reality and they needed to lighten loads. However, there was a hopeful expectation that things would return to some sense of normalcy by the time the fall semester rolled around.

That hasn’t happened. The pandemic has continued — and even included another round of shutdowns in some U.S. states — and most institutions have moved classes to online delivery. For higher education institutions that have already shed as many costs as possible while still trying to remain operable, it’s now time to embrace a new approach. Specifically, finding revenue growth opportunities that are hiding in plain sight.

How are you going to grow revenue during a pandemic when enrollment is down, fall sports revenue will be a fraction of previous seasons, and there doesn’t seem to be a turnaround in the near future? Reset your thinking and get creative.

  • Focus on how to monetize assets.
  • Identify connections that you can leverage.
  • Craft intelligent solutions that will generate revenue.

1. Focus on Monetizing Campus Assets

A university campus is asset-rich. Buildings. Parking. Mobility. Available real estate. Instead of allowing some parts of campus to sit empty during the fall semester not generating revenue, find ways to monetize these assets.

Consider three examples of how your institution can get creative finding new ways to generate revenue utilizing available assets:

– Connect with businesses about how they can utilize your college campus for training, continuing education, and other programs. Perhaps your campus has a training center or research facility that a local company could utilize. If students are not using this facility because they’re taking classes online, then consider temporarily repurposing the space for a business partner program.

  • Short-term revenue opportunity: you’ll collect a utilization fee for the campus facility.
  • Long-term revenue opportunity: you’ll build stronger working relationships with business partners that could multiply over time.

– Consumer expectations for food access have changed. There is a fresh opportunity to leverage campus real estate to set up mobile food access points. This includes talking to current and new business partners about setting up dark kitchens, food delivery stations, and food trucks.

  • Short-term revenue opportunity: collect a fee for businesses to use campus real estate.
  • Long-term revenue opportunity: scale up the mobile food option as more students return to campus in future semesters.

– Parking and mobility is one of the most untapped revenue opportunities on a college campus. The traditional model is to charge students for access to parking garages and surface lots, plus charge for transportation around campus. If enrollment is down, then of course these student-generated fees will also be down.

Focus instead on businesses and the general population that could use your set-up. Is your campus located near companies that could use parking garages? Could your local government use available space to set up transportation pick-up and drop-off spots? What about creating dedicated ride-sharing hot spots? Think of who to engage to utilize your resources.

  • Short-term revenue opportunity: collect fees from companies and government entities that utilize your parking and mobility.
  • Long-term revenue opportunity: see which programs take off and find ways to maximize these opportunities as part of a campus transformation.

2. Identify Connections You Can Leverage to Support Programs

Connections and relationships are critical to support revenue growth during this recovery period. There are two things to consider.

1. Connect with current partners to identify ways to build stronger working relationships.

2. Look outside of current connections and relationships to find new partners that could support short-term and long-term revenue opportunities.

Before the pandemic, your institution may have only connected with business partners and other entities that naturally fit the activity on your campus. Now, everything should be on the table. Stay within the mission of the university, but get creative about the type of mission-driven opportunities you pursue.

It’s about thinking broader about the types of programs your institution could introduce to re-engage students and build stronger connections with the business community. For example, using available campus real estate to introduce a cybersecurity training program. If this fits the mission of your university, then consider the types of people to connect with to get the ball rolling adding this type of program.

3. Craft Intelligent Solutions to Support Revenue Generation

Higher education stakeholders should be regularly engaging internal teams and external partners to identify the best opportunities to pursue right now. Consider building out a schedule of available opportunities that can be leveraged right now, three months from now, six months from now, and later down the road.

Then, as you gather intelligence from your teams and partners, work collaboratively to craft intelligent solutions that can start generating revenue now with potential for long-term revenue growth. Continue to think big and broad! Don’t settle for one solution to solve one problem. Pursue more comprehensive solutions that can solve larger issues for your institution.

The challenge is understanding how to have these conversations, especially if engaging new business partners. Your team may not be accustomed to having conversations with new parties involved in the process.

That’s where RESET can help. We have a deep understanding of the challenges in higher education decision-making and project delivery. We currently work with many institutional stakeholders to foster relationships with new connections that help move project scope along faster.

We can work with your institution to identify specific opportunities to leverage your existing assets and then connect with partners to help monetize these assets. During this trying time for higher education, it helps to have a partner in your corner that can help bridge the short-term gap and work with your institution to support long-term opportunities.

Contact us today to discuss solutions for pandemic recovery. Let’s work together to reset your thinking and get creative about revenue-generation during this time.


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